Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A car that is a Beetle and a Beetle that is a bug


      In April 1934 an order was received from Adolf Hitler to Ferdinand Porsche to develop a Volkswagen (literally “people’s car” in German).  It must be affordable, big enough to hold a family, strong and fast enough to travel the Autobahn.  

     The Volkswagen Beetle was originally known as the Volkswagen or the VW . The first use of the name Beetle may have been in England in 1950. There is a story that the nickname was given to John Colborne-Baber's VW (one of the first to be seen in England) by his son's school friends. 


     The VW was well-known as the Beetle when John Lennon and friends formed their famous pop group, The Beatles. In 1967, official Volkswagenwerk publications began to recognize the term "Beetle". By 1969, the name Beetle had become the official generic term.

     Like its contemporaries, the Type 1 has long outlasted predictions of its lifespan. It has been regarded as something of a "cult" car since its 1960s association with the hippie movement and surf culture; and the obvious attributes of its unique and quirky design along with its low price. For example, the Beetle could float on water thanks to its sealed floor pans and overall tight construction, as shown in the 1972 Volkswagen commercial: 





     I learned how to drive a stick shift in a white Beetle when living in Tripoli, Libya; I drove a white fast back in Cairo, Egypt; and in Newtown, Connecticut I drove a bright red Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.  The VW was a part of my life for two decades and I loved driving them all. 

 (Photo by Hasse Aldhammer, Creative Commons License; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Volkswagen_Bubbla_sista_bilen.jpg)

     The very last Volkswagen Beetle was manufactured in Puebla, Mexico, July 30, 2003, rolling off the assembly line to the music of a Mariachi Band.  It now lives in a museum in Mexico City.
A Beetle decorated in the Huichol style of beading now on display at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City.  Creative Commons License; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vochol09MAP.jpg   "Vochol09MAP" by Museo de Arte Popular.
A  Beetle can be a work of art.


The ladybug is a beetle that helps control the aphid population.



File:Coccinella magnifica01.jpg
(Photo by Gilles San Martin, Creative Commons License; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coccinella_magnifica01.jpg)

Beetle designs are in Quilts















The VW that thinks it is a spider

 




VW Spider bug located on US77 just about ½ a mile north of Lexington, Oklahoma. The Spider Bug sculpture stands on the side lot of a VW graveyard and at one point in the past it overlooked a small auto racecourse that’s long since been reclaimed by weeds and scrub.











     Let us tell the tale of a very interesting beetle: the Dung Beetle, neither a spider nor a car but the ultimate recycler.


     Dung beetles are beetles that feed partly or exclusively on dungs or feces. One dung beetle can bury dung that is 250 times heavier than itself in one night. 

     Dung beetles do just what their name suggests: they use the manure, or dung, of other animals in some unique ways! These interesting insects fly around in search of manure deposits, or pats, from herbivores like cows and other barnyard and domestic animals.

undefined
         Many dung beetles, known as rollers, roll dung into round balls, which are used as a food source or brooding chambers. Other dung beetles, known as tunnelers, bury the dung wherever they find it. A third group, the dwellers, neither roll nor burrow: they simply live in manure. They are often attracted by the dung collected by burrowing owls. Dung Beetles can grow to 3 cm long and 2 cm wide. (Photo by Alex Straub, Creative Commons License; http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Scarabaeus_viettei_01.jpg)

     Those that eat dung do not need to eat or drink anything else, because the dung provides all the necessary nutrients. No junk food for them. The beetles do a service by processing the dung dropped in pastures and open land and also reduce greenhouse gases and the fly populations.  Without the dung beetle, livestock would be out standing in their ... field.

     The sacred scarab of ancient Egypt, found in many paintings and jewelry, is a dung beetle. Ancient Egyptians thought very highly of the dung beetle, also known as the scarab. They believed the dung beetle kept the Earth revolving like a giant ball of dung, linking the insect to Khepri, the Egyptian god of the rising sun.

     In 2013, a study was published revealing that dung beetles can navigate when only the Milky Way or clusters of bright stars are visible. When the scientists put tiny black, cardboard hats on the beetles, to block their overhead view, the insects meandered hopelessly. When the beetles wore clear plastic hats, they rolled straight. They probably found the tiny hats for beetles on E-Bay.  One can find the most impossible things there.

     So what’s so great about dung beetles? They are mighty recyclers! By burying animal dung, the beetles loosen and nourish the soil and help control fly populations. The average domestic cow drops 10 to 12 dung pats per day, and each pat can produce up to 3,000 flies within two weeks. In parts of Texas, dung beetles bury about 80 percent of cattle dung. If they didn’t, the manure would harden, plants would die, and the pastureland would be a barren, smelly landscape filled with flies! While we enjoy our hamburgers, the dung beetle is enjoying the beef by-products.

     We suppose that we are superior to dung beetles, but are we really? At least dung beetles recycle. We scavenge, hoard, consume…what? Crap, mostly. It piles up around us; increasingly we live on a ball of it. But the dung beetle takes a pile of crap and recycles and makes it a home.

     We may question their lifestyle, but it’s certain that our world would be a much smellier place without the mighty dung beetle!



Monday, April 20, 2015

Undergraduate Research

This past Saturday, Josh Kouri presented a poster of his research on the spiders of Muskogee and Cherokee counties (Oklahoma).  Great job!  

- Andy

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes



Jim Stafford summed it up in the lyrics of his song, the average person has a dislike of things known as arachnids (an animal with four pairs of legs and a body with two segments -- spiders) and things that slither. I happen to enjoy and respect them both.

We appreciate the Ladybug and her battle against aphids. We hate the cockroach, cringing as it crunches underfoot. We are in awe of a web built by the spider, but jump on a chair when we see a lone spider in our home.  How many of us have yelled “Kill it!” when we see one?

In a spider’s defense they can be beautiful, and daunting.  A Peacock Spider can dance as well as any professional on Dancing with the Stars.



"MalePeacockSpider" by Jurgen Otto. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

This arachnid, scientifically known as Maratus volans, is a mere 5mm in size and is capable of quickly escaping and jumping erratically. Yet, what defines the spider best is perhaps its unusual likeness to peacocks.  Like male peacocks with their exuberant tail feathers, the male peacock spiders are equipped with beautifully colorful flaps that rise up like a fan, displaying an unbelievable radiance and richness in breathtaking patterns. The males of this species are the only gender with colorful flaps so as to attract the females. They put on a bit of a show to win them over.  That combined with YMCA by the Village People make for entertaining viewing.




The web of the Orb Spider is so beautiful; a Master Gardner will even stop to admire the spider’s web, and to thank the spider for catching all the bad bugs in a garden.

In 1973, Skylab 3 took two orb-web spiders into space to test their web-spinning capabilities in zero gravity. At first both produced rather sloppy webs, but they adapted quickly.

Many spiders will build new webs every night.  Others will just keep repairing their damaged webs.  The spider will sit near the center of the web and wait for insects to land on the web.  Some species of Orb-web spiders will weave fancy looking webs.  Scientists think that the patterns help birds to see it and avoid flying into it.

The tarantula, even though harry and scary looking, is more afraid of humans than we are of the tarantula. People usually associate Tarantulas with the people-killing kind of poison.  They have small poison glands and will be about as painful as a hornet or bee sting.  It tickles when a tarantula crawls over your hand because tarantulas are covered in hair.  Most species of tarantulas are not dangerous to humans, and some species have become popular in the exotic pet trade.

Regardless of their fearsome reputation, tarantulas are themselves an object of predation. One of the spider’s worst enemies is the Spider-Wasp.  The female wasp will paralyze the spider by stinging it.  She then digs a hole and puts the spider and an egg into it.  When the egg hatches, the baby wasp will eat away at the paralyzed spider.

Humans can also be considered predators of tarantulas. .  Besides stepping on them, the pesticides we use to control other insects can kill spiders.  In addition to more mundane cuisine, tarantulas are considered a delicacy in certain cultures. They are usually roasted over an open fire to remove the hairs and then eaten.  They are said to have a nutty taste kind of like peanut butter!

Because they are small, spiders have many enemies. Larger animals, such as birds, toads, lizards and monkeys, hunt them.  But they are also used as food by many smaller creatures.  Ticks will attach themselves to a spider and eat away at it for a long time while the spider goes about its business.





"Brachypelma smithi 2009 G03" by George Chernilevsky - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons



Recently, giant spiders were featured in books such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling. This book was later followed by a motion picture of the same name, using the giant spider Aragog from the novel as a supporting character and pet of Hagrid, a grounds keeper in the book. The kindest and most intelligent spider, of course, would have to be Charlotte, from the book Charlotte’s Web, since she could not only spell but saves the pig, Wilbur’s, life!

This museum had a wonderful volunteer, Dan Stroud, who would educate our visitors to the wonders of our friends, the “Creepy Crawlies”.   He had various live specimens from Hissing Cockroaches to Slither, a snake, and Rosie, the tarantula and an assortment of the catch of the day including spiders.  He told us how to see spiders in the grass on a summer night by lying flat on the ground with a flashlight even with the grass, turn it on and watch the light refract from the spiders eyes.  Which on a balmy summer evening, I tried; it was awesome to see all those little eyes staring back at me.  I was then afraid to walk on the grass as I didn’t want to harm any of them.

We have been scared enough to spill our popcorn while watching such movies as Alien,  laughed at Bug’s Life, chuckled at the quaint  special effects in Kingdom of The Spiders staring William Shatner. We cheer in the Spiderman movie and “Spider-Sense” helps solve the crimes of the day.  Wild Wild West, a 1999 American steampunk western action-comedy film, had a giant mechanical spider.

Why then are we so afraid of spiders? We are born with only 2 fears:  the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises!  Every other fear above and beyond that is learned!   We love spiders in movies, but we don’t love the spiders in our homes and gardens. There are a few spiders with poison strong enough to cause pain or even some nerve damage in humans.  These spiders include the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse spiders.  If left untreated, death could result.

In our ancient past, fear of the unknown kept us alive, the primitive brain reacted to certain threats.  Spiders themselves are preyed upon by lizards, frogs, birds and by predatory insects, such as the praying mantis and wasps. Spiders do play an important role in the ecosystem, just like any creature. A spider eats about 2,000 insects a year, so spiders are good to have around the home. The reward for the trouble? All too often, a smack with a newspaper. Spiders are usually killed by people because the arachnids seem scary, not because they're dangerous.

Want to get your blood circulating quickly, walk into a web by surprise. And I will save the snakes for another day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New officers for the Entomological Collections Network

I just wanted to make an announcement that elections were held for officers in the Entomological Collections Network (ECN), and Katrina was elected Vice President and I was elected Treasurer!  We are both excited about this.  The ECN represents Entomology collections around the world http://www.ecnweb.org/

Have a good day!
Andy

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

December & January Updates!

Time flies when you are having fun, and we have been on a roll. I need to get everyone caught up on all the recent activities in Recent Invertebrates.

December was our end of the year and looking back we have made some great accomplishments in 2014. Here are some highlights:

Number of papers published - 2

Menard, K. L., Schuh, R. T., and J. B. Woolley. 2014. Total-evidence phylogenetic analysis and reclassification of the Phylinae (Insecta: Heteroptera: Miridae), with the recognition of new tribes and subtribes and a redefinition of Phylini. Cladistics. 30(4): 391–427

Menard, K. L. and J. B. Woolley. 2014. A Phylogenetic study of the generic relationships within the subtribe Leucophoropterina Schuh (Miridae: Phyinae: Leucophoropterini). Systematic Entomology. 39(3): 412–430

Number of papers submitted for publication – 3

Menard, K.L. (in review) A review of the genus Spanagonicus Berg (Miridae: Phylinae: Nasocorini) with the description of novel antennal characters, the description of a new species from Central America, and a key to currently known taxa. Zootaxa.

Czaplewski, N. J., Menard, K. L., and Peachey, W. D. (in review). Pallid bats in Southeastern Arizona opportunistically feeding on noxious Mesquite Bugs (Heteroptera: Coreidae: Thanus sp.) and other insects. Southwestern Naturalist.

Stigenberg, J., Boring, C.A., Ronquist, F.R. (in press) “Phylogeny of the parasitic wasp subfamily Euphorinae (Braconidae) and evolution of its host preferences” Systematic Entomology.

Number of presentations: 5

Menard, K. L. (2014) Sexy Scents: Novel new sexually dimorphic morphological characters found in Spanagonicus Berg, and implications for possible synapomorphies in the tribe Nasiocorini (Miridae: Phylinae). International Heteropterist Society Quadrennial Meeting – Washington DC.

Menard, K.L. (2014) Research on Neotropical and Old World Tropical Miridae…in Oklahoma. Entomological Society of America’s Annual Meeting – Portland, Oregon.

Menard, K.L. (2014) Highlights of the Fifth Quadrennial Meeting of the International Heteropterist Society. Entomological Society of America’s Annual Meeting – Portland, Oregon.

Menard, K.L. (2014) Recent Invertebrates in RARE. SNOMNH volunteer presentation. Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History—Norman, Oklahoma

Boring, C.A. (2014) Biodiversity on a budget: getting the most out of your available resources. Entomological Society of America’s Annual Meeting – Portland, Oregon

Number of visitor to our Department: 162

Number of specimens cataloged: over 8,297 specimens

Major collection management activities:

- All localities of the Insect and Bivalve collections were georeferenced, and will be included into the Recent Invertebrate Collection Catalog and GBIF/IdigBio

- Josh Kouri was awarded a Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program award to recurrate and identify the beetle-by-catch spiders

- Brent Tweedy completely databased the newly accessioned Mather Collection, and recurrated the Mollusk Collection, including identification of undetermined Unionidae.

- OU Law student Lindsey Campell completely databased, recurrated, and georeferenced the entirety of the Jackson Mollusk collection.

-317 hours of volunteer activities were logged in

- NSF DBI Biological Research Collections CSBR grant was resubmitted to replace cabinetry with compactors, finish databasing of collection, and replace old drawers and unit trays was submitted in August 2014.

- The entire Schnell American Beetle By-catch Accession (over 300 jars) has been recurated, pinned, and cataloged.

- Marisano James visited our department for over a month to research local Strepsiptera.

- Accessioned 6 donations (over 1,300 specimens, many of which were expertly identified material), including the following:
  • 24 vials and additional specimens of Philippine insects and arthropods collected by Dr. Cameron Siler.
  • 230 identified specimens of Miridae from Virginia, Australia, Texas, and West Virginia
  • 300 identified Arkansas and Oklahoma beetle specimens from Brian Baldwin.
  • Over 500 specimens of Guatemalan Heteroptera collected by Dr. Jack Schuster of the University of Guatemala
  • 8 specimens of millipedes, identified to species, from a study by Dr. Chris McAllister
  • 1 specimen of Prostema eilhardi from Dr. Davidson in University of Northern Alabama
- Purchased one new insect cabinet to expand space for beetle collection.

- Repurposed the wet lab to be a shared space with Herpetology and Ichthyology; established an imaging station in office of Menard.

So if it seems like I am a bit lax at updating the blog, don't worry we are staying busy : )

In December, Katrina and I both attended the National Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. This was a great conference - I saw so many good talks that I left feeling very energized. Katrina organized a symposium on the insect order Heteroptera. It went very well and her talk was great. She presented her research on antennal morphology, which she discussed on the blog in an earlier post. I understand that this research is in preparation for publication. I also organized a symposium for the meeting, and it went very well. I was proud to present a talk on how effective volunteers can be in a natural history museum. I started my career as a volunteer and I am passionate about having this avenue open for people to explore their interests.

I have been collaborating with Julia Stigenberg from the Swedish Museum of Natural History and together with Frederick Ronquist we have a paper being published in a future issue of Systematic Entomology! The paper examines the evolutionary history of the braconid wasp subfamily Euphorinae. I'm not sure when the paper will be published, but it has been accepted and will appear in a future issue.

January has been a busy month. I have been recruiting new volunteers on campus and getting everyone going. We now have 11 volunteers working and we are currently at capacity! I am starting to have to turn down volunteers because we simply do not have the space to put everyone.

We also hired a new student collections assistant, Josh Kouri. Josh has been volunteering with us for over a year and the experience has paid off! We are excited to have him get started in his new role. Josh has also applied for an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Grant, and has received a $500 award to research the wolf spiders of Cherokee and Muskogee counties. The ball is really rolling for Josh lately - he has just been accepted into a summer research program in Costa Rica. He will be joining the esteemed Jack Longino to study the ants in Costa Rica for 6 weeks! I'm so jealous! Jack advertised the position at the Entomological Collections Network Meeting (preceding the ESA meeting) and Josh immediately came to mind. I made sure he got in contact with Jack. I'm so excited for him to get this experience! I once spent a week with Jack in a remote cloud forest in Costa Rica and he is an amazing Entomologist.

Tess Sanguila is a visiting scientist from the Philippines. While Herpetology is her expertise, I have been teaching her about how to collect and preserve insects so that when she returns home she can begin to build a collection for her university. Tess is super bright and has been picking up everything as fast as I can tell her. She is possibly the fastest person I've ever trained to point mount insects - she's a natural.

Tess and I have been going through parts of our collection that have not been used in a LONG time. We found a long series of Boll Weevils from Oklahoma in the 1950's. This is a great find because the Boll Weevil was part of a successful eradication program in the 1980's. We have also found a long series of butterflies that we collected in Mexico during the 1970's. We are going to rehydrate the specimens and prepare them. Hopefully we are able to salvage as many specimens as possible.

Well that is all for now. Have a good day!

Andy

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Science in Action, Bioblitz, and other updates!

We have had a busy September!  We had a booth at the museum's annual Science in Action Day.  We spent a Sunday afternoon at the museum where patrons could bring in objects or specimens for identification.  We brought a nice selection of local invertebrates for public education and I think it turned out very well.  We had a great reaction to the live inverts!  Here are some pictures from the event:



















The weekend after Science in Action, we went to Black Kettle National Forest for Bioblitz.  If you aren't familiar with a Bioblitz, basically a group of scientists and citizens go to a location and spend 24 hours identifying as many organisms as possible.  663 plants, algae, diatoms, bugs, birds, mammals, herps, ect were identified during this years bioblitz!  317 of those were terrestrial invertebrates, so we were very busy the whole time. 


These bioblitz activities are a lot of fun and help build lists of the species found in Oklahoma.  The site changes each year, so this is a great way to update distribution records and update species maps.  There were a half-dozen or so new county records from this year's bioblitz.  Here is a picture of a Blue-eyed Darner - this specimen is the first documented record of this species in the county!





We also have a new volunteer with us, Simon.  Simon has already become a big help with our cataloging efforts.  We cataloged 1,038 specimens in September!!!! Woo Hoo!

Have a good day,
Andy

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Burst of News!!!

We have had such an eventful Summer that I wanted to share all of the recent activity with everyone.  Our department is getting prepped to monitor the population status of the Oklahoma native butterfly, Linda's Roadside Skipper.  The conservation status of this little butterfly has been classified as "Vulnerable [to extinction]" by the Xerxes Society (http://www.xerces.org/lindas-roadside-skipper/).  We want to find out if the population is stable, what habitats are best suited for this species, and if populations are interbreeding.  We have a variety of additional research questions that all pertain to helping future land management decisions have a positive effect on this butterfly's population.  I'm a recent immigrant to Oklahoma (Ohio native), but I love it here already.  I feel proud to work on a project to preserve the natural heritage of this great state.  We have applied for funding and are anxiously awaiting response to proceed with this project.  Here is a picture of Linda's Roadside Skipper:

Linda's Roadside Skipper. Image used with permission by Nick Grishin

We are waiting hopefully for a response from our second grant proposal this year from NSF.  My fingers are crossed that the third time will be the charm!  We really need our facilities updated, especially the cabinetry as we continue to grow.  As our collection has grown from significant acquisitions, we are in need of the infrastructure to keep up with the current rate of our collection's use.  We face turning away scientifically important accessions due to lack of space. We currently have a strong core of 3 regular volunteers who are tremendous assets to our collection, and being able to expand our space will allow us to reach our full capacity of their productivity.  I would like to have 10-15 volunteers in our department, and this would have a strong impact on the Biology Program at Oklahoma University and the City of Norman.  We are on a positive roll right now!

We started collaborating with Mr. Perry Buenevente of the Philippine National Museum and our Herpetology Department to study biodiversity in the Philippine archipelagos.  Mr. Buenevente organized a month long trip where they collected tissues from hundreds of reptiles & amphibians and just as many insects.  We have made some amazing finds just from the pilot tests, and we have already made plans to go with Dr. Siler to collect more specimens within the next year!  Here are some of the best finds we have made so far:

I noticed this fly (left photo) had something peculiar about it.  After closer examination it appears to have a parasite from the order Strepsipter (Twisted-Winged Parasites).  I took these photos to show to an expert on these parasites and he was very excited by this find because this would be just the second record of Strepsiptera parasitizing a fly.  This is very likely a new species, which we plan to collaborate and describe!  We are beginning talks about generating a 3D model of this for our museum's upcoming exhibit "What's Eating You?" - an exhibit that highlights interesting parasites!

This fly is called a "Stalk-Eyed Fly" because ... well ... the eyes are seemingly stretched out on stalks!  Females prefer to mate with males that have wider eyes, and this preference has strongly influenced their morphology.





Next I would like to show you what appears to be a mimicry complex.  All of the wasps below are different species, and many are not closely related.  However they have similar markings with subtle variations.  See if you can pick out some of the similarities and differences between these:
                                              

Now take a second look and pay attention to the color and patterns on the thorax and abdomen, the dark marks on the wings, the colors of the legs.  Also, they all have a white patch across their antennae.  Pretty cool huh?


These Weevils (above) from the Philippines are so beautiful I wanted to share photos!



This specimen was a great find!  A rarely collected specimen of the Enicocephalomorpha (Unique-Headed Bugs).  Their heads are uniquely shaped and they have forelegs that are similar in structure to a louse.  We just discovered this specimen and are excited to examine it in more detail at a later date.





This brightly colored beetle belongs in the family Chrysomellidae, the leaf-eating beetles.  Aside from it's safety orange color, notice it has white tipped antennae - just like the wasps in the mimicry complex above!

This pygmy grasshopper is in the family Tetrigidae.  I thought it looked cool and wanted to share a photo.  Enjoy!






With these great finds and more to come, we are very excited about joining Dr. Siler for the next expedition!

Katrina and I are both organizing separate symposium for the upcoming annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America.  Katrina is a world expert on the identification and classification of true bugs (Heteroptera), and her symposium will cover an assortment of topics related to this subject.  I have been working hard to put together a team of volunteers in our department, and we have a great crew!  I'm very proud of all the work that we have accomplished in the last year.  When I first took on the task of processing countless samples of 20 year-old by-catch material, there was an entire cabinet stacked with samples on top of samples.  There must have been 500+ samples when I started.  Katrina estimated this job to require 3 years to finish (maybe 5), but right now - just a year into it - we are nearly finished processing the samples and over half of these have been cataloged already!!!!  I want to give a big congrats to our volunteers for all their hard work!!!!  Last month we processed & cataloged over 430 specimens to our collection.  Getting back to the topic of symposiums, my symposium will cover the important topic of sorting, processing, cataloging, and publishing from samples of biodiversity.  My talk will be an essay on how to generate a volunteer base, create a work routine, and efficiently use your time to process samples.  I want to share this with other institutions because what we've done at the Sam Noble Museum can be a model for other institutions to follow. 

Katrina has been extra busy this last month.  She has been taking groups out to Black Mesa for the museum's Explorology program, where kids get to spend time with a scientist and collect insects.  She has also been competing at the national level in triathlons (and doing very very well!).  She is competing internationally toward the end of the month, so wish her luck!

Throw another iron in the fire because we are looking for an honors student to study the spiders of Muskogee and Cherokee County.  We have pulled all the spiders from the 500+ samples mentioned above.  We will work to identify these spiders and then assemble a checklist for the spiders of Muskogee and Cherokee County.  You will have the opportunity to expand the distribution range for many spiders in Oklahoma.  Along the way you will learn skills in spider identification to strengthen your future in Zoology and Ecology.  You will also learn best practices for museum based research questions.  If you are an honors student at OU, and this seems like a good fit for your interests, then please consider our project. 

Well, with all the big news, I'm sure I've forgotten a few noteworthy items.  However, it's time to get back to work!

Have a great day!
Andy